It’s that time of the year again: Consumer-mas!
While I try not to be much of a consumer, especially of wasteful, disposable items, I do appreciate some great gadgets and travel gear that make traveling and life easier and fun! I’ve been doing this travel thing for a couple decades now so I know what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some items I personally use and recommend.
I am often asked what kind if camera I use. For most of the photography on this blog and in my professional jobs, I use a Canon 60D with a few different lenses. I’ve had this camera for a few years now and its been great. It does all the stuff a camera is supposed to do, plus one feature I really love is the articulating screen. For someone that does video occasionally (and is traveling solo), it really helps to be able to swivel the screen around 180 degrees so I can see myself while filming.
I hated the scratchy, non-giving strap that came with the Canon. The Rapid Strap is comfy and also has versions for women. I love how I can sling it across my body, but still glide the camera in place for a shot. Highly recommend.
A mirrorless camera has been on my wishlist for a couple years now (see, I rarely rush into larger purchases!). I think this upcoming “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” might finally be when I drop the cash for this. Toping the list for me is the Sony A6300. It shoots 4K video, can do better slo-mo and time lapse, has some tricked-out focusing capabilities, and lots of customizable pre-sets. The rear LCD screen does tilt, but I am disappointed that I can’t swivel it around to face front! But, I did run over to Best Buy recently and talked to the Sony rep there. He informed me that with Sony’s “Precious Memories” app (stupid name, but it adds a lot of capabilities to the camera), I can use WiFi to share the LCD screen onto my mobile screen, therefore if I am shooting myself, I can see it in my hand so I can check composition and focus when not behind the camera! Perfect!
I’ve been doing more filming on my new Samsung Galaxy S7 (new for me…I recently bought the previous model as it was cheaper and still an upgrade from my Galaxy S5!) as the quality has increased a lot for Samsung. In order to keep my shots stable, and my arm from tiring out, I use a gimbal stabilizer. This one is from DJI, one of the most popular drone companies. The quality is top notch.
Another great item for filming on-the-go with my phone is this awesome little lavalier mic from Rode. Rode has become very well-known for their mobile audio gear and having this for quick interviews is way better than using the built-in mic on your phone.
I finally treated myself to a new tripod last year (my old one was literally from high school days) and love it. The Vanguard is lightweight, easy to use, and comes in a nice, compact carrying case. I love that it collapses down so small (the top half folds into the legs) and has a leveling bubble built in. The only caveat is the height. If you are interviewing anyone over 6 feet tall, it might not be at eye level, but it hasn’t affected me yet.
I’m still amazed at how cheap memory is these days. I needed a larger capacity portable hard drive and got the Seagate 5 TB drive. It’s great! Small, sleek and so roomy! If only I could do a brain dump onto this thing!
I am still loving my Karma wifi hotspot which allows me to do a pay-as-you-go data plan and not need a cell phone plan! This has been saving me hundreds of dollars each year from not getting a cell phone bill. I highly recommend.
I needed a case for my new phone. I tried a few, but thy felt bulky and not aesthetically pleasing. I am so glad I found the Spigen case. It’s strong, yet so thin and sexy! It really takes on the shape of the phone so you can still appreciate your phones design. Another gift I highly recommend.
I finally got one of these this year and think this tiny, cheap thing is wonderful. It’s so simple, but for me adds so much stability when I’m holding my phone or taking a photo or video. I have never felt secure gripping my thin phone, but now my fingers anchor around the pop socket and I know my phone isn’t going anywhere! Remember when we wouldn’t hold a camera without a strap? It’s crazy how we dangerously dangle these expensive mini-computers which can tumble to the ground so easily. The pop socket definitely adds more safety to your grip, especially when shooting photos or video.
I love this little thing…and mostly because of just that, it’s little! I had a larger one and as a minimalist packer, this works for me. It is a surge protector plus has a USB input to charge all your MP3 Players, iPhones, and Android devices.
Packing & Travel
I’ve been using Eagle Creek packing cubes for more than 11 years now and still think they are THE best packing items you can give or receive. I typically use three cubes — one for undies and bras, one for shirts, and one for pants. They keep everything in its place. Most importantly, they keep me sane when packing and unpacking because I never have to think…stuff always just goes back to the same cubes. I love them!
My favorite carry-on rollerboard is the Briggs and Riley International Torq Spinner. It’s a thin, hardshell bag that is the lightest one I’ve ever owned. It spins on four wheels, so it’s so easy to tilt it on two wheels and pull it behind you or push it on all four next to you. I love how compact it is and always fits in the overhead bin. The best bit? The front, locking pocket holds your laptop for easy accessibility.
Readers Jonny, Melissa, and Matt all highly recommended the Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow. It’s made of plush memory foam and a soft, removable cover that you can toss in the wash after every trip. Plus the travel case compacts the neck pillow to ¼ its size for quick + convenient packing.
Reader Shelly recommends the LX250 Pacsafe Anti-Theft Tote bag. It’s packed with subtle security features — from the eXomesh slashguard, a flexible, stainless steel wire mesh built into the bag’s fabric to a Carrysafe slashguard strap with cut-resistant webbing. In addition to plenty of space for your essentials, it also features a padded sleeve sized for a 13-inch MacBook and an RFIDsafe pocket to help protect sensitive personal data stored on RFID micro-chips. I’ve been looking for a tote bag for my laptop and love this recommendation!
For hosting a blog or website, I highly recommend Siteground. I switched to them earlier this year and it’s been great so far. They are a top hosting provider, famous for their legendary customer support and premium service quality. I’ve needed support a few times already and they are always very responsive. And…on Black Friday (November 24) Siteground will be offering a massive discount of all annual shared hosting plans – 70% OFF!
Stock Photo & Video
Doing more videos nowadays? Sometimes you just don’t have the shot you need. That’s where places like VideoBlocks or Pond5 come in. And if you need help with your videos, don’t forget I offer video coaching and consulting over at LLmedia.co.
If you are a travel blogger or even thinking of starting a travel blog, I highly recommend the learning and sharing community, Travel Blog Success. I’ve been a member for several years and find their group boards some of the most helpful around. Plus they have many courses by experts to help newer bloggers.
And for Black Friday weekend they are having their biggest sale of the year! There will be a massive discount to their membership fee.
I personally hate carrying umbrellas. I often prefer a good rain jacket and hood. I always pack my Columbia rain jacket. It’s waterproof and cute with a modern fit. What more do you need?
It took me forever, but I finally went over to Michigan Avenue in Chicago to check out this store. And I’ve been back three times already. I already love their ultra stretch skinny jeans (and the the fact that they hem them for free for you), but my favorite items are the Heat Tech shirts. They are fitted, stretchy, and are a great inner shell layer. They allegedly keep you warmer than a normal shirt. I’ll be testing them out this winter for sure.
Over the last couple years, I’ve lost and kept off a total of 25 lbs! I finally committed to my health and have been working out and counting my calories every single day. I couldn’t have done it without the Beach Body Series, 21 Day Fix.
Happy shopping and giving!
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I personally recommend each of these items and the commission just helps me defray the costs of this site.